SCC: Watkins Glen: Automatic Racing preview

Automatic Racing: Consistency will be Key at Watkins Glen for Hillestad, Waddell WATKINS GLEN, NY--Just five races into the season, Automatic Racing's Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell are already on a streak, earning a top-ten finish in the last...

Automatic Racing: Consistency will be Key at Watkins Glen for Hillestad, Waddell

WATKINS GLEN, NY--Just five races into the season, Automatic Racing's Mark Hillestad and Barry Waddell are already on a streak, earning a top-ten finish in the last three KONI Sports Car Challenge races. The drivers of the No. 99 H&S Tool BMW M3 hope to make it four straight top-tens during this weekend's event at Watkins Glen.

Hillestad has raced at Watkins Glen in the past, but he's more focused on the present: the confidence and consistency he and Waddell have displayed lately will be a key factor in their performance.

"The first thing I said at the start of the season was that we'd be better drivers by the end of the year, and that's happening," said Hillestad, noting that both drivers returned to competition this season after a lengthy break. "We're faster each weekend, and it's all coming together really well. I look forward to every race more than the last one."

Waddell, who has either won or stood on the podium in all of his races at Watkins Glen, is cautiously optimistic. "Every weekend we have new variables, so we have to manage our expectations," he said, but added, "I think we can be in the top five right now, and Watkins Glen could turn out to be a great track for us."

Charlie Putman is also looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past: at Watkins Glen last year, an unexpected slow car at the top of esses ended his day early. However, Putman and Charles Espenlaub are coming off of a fourth-place finish at Lime Rock two weeks ago in the No. 91 Automatic Racing BMW M3. Their recent success coupled with the anticipation of driving one of his favorite tracks has Putman excited about this weekend.

"Watkins Glen is the type of track that favors Charles's and my racing style, and it's one of our favorite tracks." Still, Putman says, success at The Glen takes skill. "It's a high-speed track and things happen quickly. It's a safe track and a fun track, but it takes a higher than average toll. You have to stay ahead on the track and look for open spots through traffic."

The KONI Challenge race at Watkins Glen, featuring Automatic Racing's two Grand Sport entries, begins at 4:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 5.

-credit: ar

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Charles Espenlaub , Charlie Putman , Mark Hillestad , Barry Waddell
Teams Automatic Racing